The Jamaican flowering tree is of the Fabaceae (pea) family. The genus is coccuswood. It is commonly known as the Jamaican rain tree (Brya ebenus). The Jamaican flowering tree is native to the West Indies and grows up to 30 feet in height. It flowers constantly, especially after a hard rain, and does not tolerate temperatures below 30 degrees F.
The Jamaican flowering tree's new branches grow straight up, then fall or "weep" to the ground as they get longer and heavier. The tree produces yellowish-orange flowers throughout the year, especially after a rain, when the humidity is high. The form of the tree is unusual, in that it does not form a rounded canopy. The Jamaican flowering tree is an evergreen that requires full sun (more than six hours of constant sunlight per day).
The bark of the Jamaican flowering tree is dark brown. The leaves are small and shaped like an upside-down egg. Some leaves might be oblong. The yellow flowers are pea-like and cover the branches throughout the year. Propagate the tree with cuttings, making sure to transplant the established cuttings only when the nighttime temperatures are above 60 degrees F., as the roots are very sensitive.
The Jamaican flowering tree is drought tolerant, but should be kept watered during dry seasons to ensure constant flowering. Water the tree with at least an inch of water each week during non-rainy seasons. Watering deeply encourages root growth, while watering with less water more often encourages the roots to grow near the top of the soil. If the roots are too close to the top of the soil, the tree could be easily uprooted by strong winds. The tree might also become stressed. Once the tree becomes stressed, it is more susceptible to pests and disease. The soil must be well-drained, so as not to encourage root rot.
The Jamaican flowering tree yields coccuswood. Coccuswood is also known as black ebony, Gabon, Calabar, Niger ebony, billetwood or Lagos. The wood is a dense hardwood and is often exported to Europe. It was, during the 19th century, used for making flutes in France and England. It is still used on occasion to make bagpipes, oboes and clarinets.
The tree is decorative and can be kept in shrub form if pruned yearly or as needed throughout the season. Prune the tree in the spring for dead and decaying wood and plant matter. Prune throughout the year to keep the tree shrub-sized and to remove dead or decaying wood and plant matter.